Tanzania’s new president John Magufuli has sacked several top port figures following the discovery that over 2,700 shipping containers were smuggled at the Port of Dar es Salaam tax free.
Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) director general Awadhi Massawe, TPA chairman Joseph Msambichaka and Shaaban Mwinjaka, secretary general of the Ministry of Transport, were dismissed after two surprise visits to the port made by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa revealed the corruption scam.
On one of the visits to the port, the Prime Minister found out that 349 shipping containers, worth more than Sh80bn (US$37m), were smuggled from inland container depots serving the port without paying government taxes.
Another visit by the Prime Minister revealed that an additional 2,431 shipping containers were smuggled without paying taxes.
The racket involved high-value containerised goods being scanned for inspection as low-value products.
Massawe, who was appointed director general of TPA in October 2015 after having held the position of acting director since February 2015, is the third port chief to be sacked in three years.
The prime minister’s office said in a statement: “President Magufuli has also disbanded the board of directors of the ports authority due to its failure to take action against the Dar es Salaam port’s long history of poor performance.”
Majaliwa also suspended 13 other senior officials at the port due to an investigation into claims of corruption and tax evasion.
Magufuli, who prior of his appointment was the country’s public works minister, was elected president in October 2015, becoming Tanzania’s fifth president since independence.